Tag: Ernest J. Gaines

Reading Knoxville: This Shaky Earth

Book by Ramon DeGennaro, Reviewed by Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“Poetry enables us to know what it ‘feels like’ to be alive in the world,” wrote Cleanth Brooks and Robert Penn Warren in Understanding Poetry. “What does it ‘feel like,’ for instance, to be in love, to hate somebody, to be conscience stricken, to watch a sunset or stand by a death-bed, to be willing to die for a cause or live in a passionate devotion to some chosen ideal?” Linda Parsons Marion, in This Shaky Earth, takes the reader on a powerful emotional journey from memories of childhood to reflections of being a grandmother through poems whose feelings pulse from every page. Read more →

A Conversation with Linda Parsons

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.


Untitled-13“Being in exile helped me discover myself,” Linda Parsons told me one Saturday morning at Panera Bread. Linda was born in Nashville, but her family moved to Wisconsin for her high school years. Attending high school so far away from where she was raised highlighted what it was “to be Southern” and helped her develop her own streak of independence. She eventually migrated back South to Knoxville where she earned a BA and MA in English from the University of Tennessee. Along this path she discovered she wanted to be a writer. Read more →

Reading Knoxville: How the Stock Market Works

Book by Ramon DeGennaro, Reviewed by Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“We’ll learn what stocks actually are and how they are traded. We’ll learn about the risks you’ll take if you invest in stocks, and why you might find buying them attractive despite those risks.” Ramon DeGennaro, a Professor in Banking and Finance at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville, explains the reality and the myths of the stock market in his illuminating course, How the Stock Market Works. Published by The Great Courses, this series of 24 lectures can help both students and parents become much more conversant with the language of money and finance and the advantages and disadvantages of buying stocks. Read more →

Talking with Ramon DeGennaro

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.


met Ray DeGennaro over coffee at Panera at lunch time on a nice, almost Spring day. Ray had just come from teaching his Introduction to Finance course at the University of Tennessee. He felt that talking to over 200 students in one of UT’s big lecture halls had strained his voice a bit. Our conversation began with me wondering how he chosen his particular career. Read more →

Reading Knoxville: A Lesson Before Dying

Book by Ernest J. Gaines, Reviewed by Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



“I don’t want them to kill a hog,” she said. “I want a man to go that chair, on his own two feet.” Miss Emma’s godson, Jefferson, has been sentenced to die in the electric chair for his unwitting involvement in a liquor store robbery that left three people dead, including the white storeowner. By arguing for life imprisonment instead of the electric chair, the defense attorney tried to convince the jury that Jefferson, a young black man, wasn’t even a man: “Do you see a man sitting here?…Do you see a modicum of intelligence? Do you see anyone here who could plan a murder, a robbery?…What justice would there be to take this life?…Why, I would just as soon put a hog in the electric chair?” Ernest Gaines’ powerful novel A Lesson Before Dying (purchase the book on Amazon here), set in the 1948 South, portrays the struggle to help Jefferson die like a man. Read more →

The Big Read In Knoxville

By Michael K. Smith, Ph.D.



Ernest Gaines’ novel A Lesson Before Dying (see book review in this issue) has been chosen to celebrate The Big Read in Knoxville, February 5 through March 13, 2016. Sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts, “The Big Read broadens our understanding of our world, our communities, and ourselves through the joy of sharing a good book.” Coordinated by the Knox County Public Library and many community partners, “The Big Read supports organizations across the country in developing community-wide reading programs which encourage reading and participation by diverse audiences.” A Reader’s and Teacher’s Guide to the novel is available at the NEA website: http://www.neabigread.org/books/lessonbeforedying/ Read more →